Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Evil Corporations

A conversation with my father - a man whose sociopolitical views could hardly be more opposite to mine - highlighted very well a fundamental lack of reason so characteristic of those who say that corporations are evil.

Father: Cigarette companies just make their money off the backs of the helplessly addicted.
Me: Ha, ha! You're joking, right?
Father: Certainly not! Cigarettes are a chemical addiction.
Me: ...Yes, but you don't really think that cigarette manufacturers are motivated to produce on that basis.
Father: Smokers are completely addicted to cigarettes. It's that that keeps the money coming in for the cigarette manufacturers.
Me: Demand for cigarettes is cultural, though. It originates from a time before people knew that it was bad for you (and if I recall correctly, they thought it was actually beneficial).
Father: No. Smokers can't stop buying cigarettes, they're addictive.
Me: Yes, but they weren't addicted before they started smoking, were they?
Father: ...

I really never got an answer to that. Do people not think at all before saying things like this? It's the matter of seconds to realise that the demand for cigarettes can't possibly originate from the addiction (I won't get into the idiocy of implying that chemical addiction is somehow irreversible, or nearly irreversible, or even that it has any great power over people. Especially considering my father brags about how easy it was for him to give up smoking!), because the demand must exist before the addiction is created.